SPOKANE, Wash. — A Washington State University student design featuring 80-foot-tall steel columns, water elements, a tunnel under Spokane Falls Boulevard and other innovative concepts took top honors at a design competition Aug. 29.

That project and others were honored as winners in the Seventh Annual Community Design and Construction Charrette conducted by the Interdisciplinary Design Institute at WSU Spokane.

This year’s charrette challenged students to conceptualize a “Spokane Gateway” that would enhance Division Street and the intersection with Spokane Falls Boulevard and Trent Avenue. David Wang, charrette organizer and associate professor of architecture at WSU Spokane, cited the St. Louis arch and the Statue of Liberty as examples of gateway signatures that come to symbolize and create enduring memories of an entire city.

Judges described the first-place entry as the most comprehensive of the 22 designs in the competition. “It shows a real depth of understanding of the whole choreography and movement all through the site,” said Tom Reese, economic development adviser for the city of Spokane and one of the event judges.

The team’s gateway element consists of 15 steel columns, 50-80 feet high, clad in opaque Lexan® plastic with internal colored lighting and streaming water that skims along their surfaces down to small pools at the base. Other elements of its overall design include a water sculpture at the Interstate 90 off-ramp, a bicycle lane, refurbishing of the train trestle that passes over Division at Sprague Avenue and a conversion of Division into a boulevard, with a light rail system and terminal.

Other gateway elements proposed ranged from a golden ball sculpture, representing the original meaning of the word “Spokane” — Children of the Sun — to a large abstract glass sculpture overhead, to a striking curved openwork archway and pedestrian skywalk with historic echoes of railroad trestle construction.

At the charrette kickoff Aug. 26, Spokane Mayor John Powers invited the students to imagine a favorite path or front door and think about the ways in which the approach to a place influences how you feel about it.

“Make a special impression,” he urged; “our front door isn’t yet what it needs to be.” The mayor told students, “Spokane is the best base camp in the world,” with examples of 90 percent of the world’s natural features found within a 300-mile radius of the city, from desert to rain forest to mountains.

Mike Edwards, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, also spoke at the opening. He cited past examples of WSU Spokane student work that has had real-world impact. “Last year’s charrette focused on the Great Gorge Park; the Legislature  appropriated $250,000 for the project. Matt Melcher (interior design assistant professor) did a Main Street project a few years ago with students; now Main Street is coming alive and connecting to Riverpoint. Another project looked at putting a fountain in Riverfront Park—now there’s a fundraiser under way to build such a fountain.”

Drawing on his memories as an environmental design student at Cal Poly, Reese said of the charrette format, “Incredibly long hours, interesting group dynamics, tensions, seemingly unrealistic program scope, impossible deliverables—I envy you.”

Student design work in the past has created community enthusiasm for a designated “University District” centered on the Riverpoint and Gonzaga campuses. Their concepts sparked support from community leaders that led to a federal funding request sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray on behalf of Spokane. If funded, the project would include work on this same area.

This year’s charrette was sponsored by Avista, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, City of Spokane, Office of the Mayor and Spokane Art Supply.

Award winners:
(All students listed are in undergraduate programs unless otherwise noted)

1st Place – Team 6
Elise LeBarron, landscape architecture, Spokane
Nicole Meyer, interior design, Spokane
Hui-Feng Peng, graduate student in interior design, London, Ontario, Canada
Kevin McCarry, construction management, Auburn
Jason Clapp, master’s in architecture, Vancouver

2nd Place – Team 10
Zachary Chandler, landscape architecture, Spanaway
Breeana Crowninshield, graduate student in interior design, Mill Creek
Erik Pieczatkowski, construction management, Kirkland
Matthew Koch, architecture, Kent

3rd Place – Team 21
Ryan Weets, construction management, Grandview
Abbey Cwiek, interior design, Veradale
Leylan Fernandes-Richards, graduate student in interior design, Seattle
Michael Niemer, construction management, Bellevue
Wiese, master’s in architecture, Federal Way

4th Place – Team 22
Anthony Ortiz, landscape architecture – Santa Barbara, Calif.
Jennifer Brunson, interior design, Tumwater
Cecilia (Lia) Torie, master’s in architecture, Kennewick
Nathan Mahlum, construction management, Port Angeles
Sean Brigman, architecture, Spokane

5th Place – Team 12
Chadd Baker, landscape architecture – Yakima
Cheok Pun, interior design, Macau, China
Abigail Gelotte, graduate student in interior design, Kirkland
Steve Sunleaf, construction management, Mesa
Sean Newton, architecture, Albany, Ore.

6th Place – Team 4
Yoshino Azami, landscape architecture, Tokyo, Japan
Taimi Ylinen, interior design, Lynnwood
Devin Fitzpatrick, graduate student in interior design, Spokane
Ryan McDonald, construction management, Washougal

Community judges:

Michael Edwards, president, Downtown Spokane Partnership
Tom Reese, ASLA, economic development director, Office of the Mayor, City of Spokane; adjunct faculty, landscape architecture, Interdisciplinary Design Institute, WSU Spokane
Sue Lani Madsen, AIA, partner, Madsen, Mitchell, Evanson and Conrad
Michelle Anderson, environmental manager, Washington State Department of Transportation
Greg Kessler, professor and director, WSU School of Architecture and Construction Management
Wayne Brokaw, director, Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors of America
Jim Paras, vice president, Paras General Contractors and vice president Inland NW AGC
Mitch Neeley, project manager, Lydig Construction (WSU graduate in construction management, 1999)
Joe Williams, project manager, Lydig Construction (WSU graduate in construction management, 1997)

Web sites:

Interdisciplinary Design Institute: www.idi.spokane.wsu.edu (a link to winning Charrette designs will be posted as soon as possible)
WSU Spokane: www.spokane.wsu.edu
News release on 2003 charrette: http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4029 (Aug. 15, 2003)
News release on student presentation of University District concepts to the mayor: http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=3711 (Mar. 10, 2003)
Graphics from the March 2003 student presentation: http://www.spokane.wsu.edu/academic/design/Scarfo03_overview.asp